As social media continues to grow in popularity, the investment by early adopters into online fundraising and technology is finally starting to pay off. If you were not one of the early adopters, don’t worry, it’s not too late to build and engage your online community.
There are many social media channels useful to nonprofits, and a multichannel approach strategy is highly recommended. But for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on one of the most widely used communications vehicles today, Twitter.
Twitter has been used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities and charitable causes – according to an MDG Advertising report, using Twitter during fundraising events can result in 10 times more money raised online. It has helped successfully spread awareness about social issues, and best of all, it’s free (for the most part). Those reasons alone make it a major asset to nonprofits.
Audience growth on social media continues to be very high. The 2015 M+R Benchmarks Study reported while email list sizes grew by 11 percent in 2014, Twitter audiences increased by 37 percent averaging 5.4 posts per day.
Because spreading the word is a core function of Twitter, it is an ideal place to raise awareness and support for your online fundraising effort. But to do it successfully takes more than posting multiple tweets a day.
First and foremost, focus on building and nurturing your community of supporters through offline and online channels. Twitter is a great tool to have in your arsenal, but it’s the community that powers it. These tips should help you harness that power and start you off on the right foot to a successful fundraising campaign.
Twitter Best Practices for Nonprofits
The following steps will guide you through the “rules” of engagement.
First Things First:
- Don’t try to sell yourself in 140 characters, but do tell stories. If all you do is tweet about yourself, and never provide value in your tweets, your followers will lose interest quickly. Keep your language casual. Talk about your supporters and what they have been able to accomplish. You can build the story with multiple tweets.
- Provide value to the audience. This is a must to get your supporters engaged. Find a balance within your tweets by providing information (i.e., retweets from other organizations), a quote, inspiration and even entertainment to brighten their day.
- Be true to yourself. But not at the expense of being heard. The biggest mistake nonprofits make on Twitter is when they tweet with the same voice they use in their letters from the executive director. It won’t work. If all you “give” is speeches on Twitter, you won’t have many people listen; they will move on. Talk and get involved with hashtags. Spotlight other people that are doing good things that are related to what your cause is doing. Provide value and you will build a much bigger social media following.
Fundraising Tips to Remember:
- Demonstrate return on investment (ROI) from a donation. You are asking for help. Be sure to state your purpose clearly and concisely. Let people know why they should care about your cause, and be specific about how their contribution will benefit others. Potential supporters are more apt to respond to your ask if they know exactly what will become of the funds they are providing. You will ensure your organization’s credibility by being specific.
- Communicate an achievable goal. “We need to raise $1,000 in the next hour to provide a safe place for 50 women and children to sleep tonight.” “If we get 20 new supporters today an anonymous donor will give $1,000 donation.” Make it realistic and achievable. Whatever your goal is, during the day, tweet out your progress. Be sure to time your online fundraising posts thoughtfully. People will lose interest in the idea of supporting your cause if the pattern of your tweets appears robotic and repetitive.
- The power of friends. Friends inspire 33 percent* of the time! Take this opportunity to drive community and donor engagement around your nonprofit’s cause. Urge donors to post messages about their gifts on social networks to encourage their friends to give. You get two opportunities with this one – stay in touch with current supporters, get retweets and gain new supporters. Don’t forget to use RT (retweet), and #FF (Follow Friday) when calling out your friends to follow.
*Salsa online donor engagement survey.
A Few Thoughts Before you Tweet:
- Match your branding, headlines and call to action. It’s all about the details. Make sure your donors are directed to a landing page that matches your tweet. When you are driving a donor to a branded page your conversion rate will be six times higher.
- Follow up. If you are implementing a fundraising campaign be sure to plan your follow up before you ever send your first tweet. Know what you want your tweets to say, how often and what you expect your results to reflect. It is important to have a number of tweets ready so you can respond quickly and appropriately when the time comes.
And as most of you know, the real trick in raising money is to not give up. The same goes for Twitter. As you continue to build followers and spread your message and relevant news about your cause, those followers will step up and push your message as well.